The Baltic States and Poland have long wanted an enduring NATO presence on their territories. Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014 convinced their allies they need it. With plans approved at the Warsaw Summit in 2016, now the four countries each have a battle group of approximately 1,000 troops stationed on their territory. “We don’t see any imminent threat against any NATO ally,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, “but we have to be vigilant.”
Stoltenberg traveled to Latvia and Lithuania in June during the Saber Strike 2017 military exercises, which involved some 11,000 troops from twenty countries, to mark the battle groups becoming fully operational and to remind everyone why they exist.
“What we saw in Crimea and Ukraine was that there was a lack of a strong military presence that made it possible for Russia to act in the way they did, with hybrid warfare, with little green men in Crimea,” Stoltenberg told me. “[Lithuania] is a very different country, but we need an increased NATO presence with multinational forces, improving our situational awareness to be able to send a very clear message that any attack, any threat against any NATO ally will trigger a response from the whole Alliance.”
Friday, 7 July 2017
New Atlanticist: NATO Enhances its Eastern Front